It began back in 2000 when SwimTrek’s founder Simon Murie was planning for his 30th birthday. He remembered as a boy growing up, reading about Byron’s crossing of the fabled Hellespont which divides Europe and Asia in north-west Turkey. It was made famous in Greek mythology by Leander’s nightly swims to his lover Hero. She would hold out a torch to guide Leander’s way. In the early morning he would swim back across the strait. Lord Byron, the English poet, entranced by Leander’s nightly feats became the first known person to actually cross the strait back in 1810.
He took himself off to Turkey to attempt it himself, but it was anything other than easy to organise. It took him around a week to get the requisite permissions from the local council, the army and the coastguard as well as finding a pilot willing to escort him across. The swim itself took just under an hour to actually swim. This total imbalance between time organising and time swimming made him realise that there must be other swimmers out there who also wanted to do these great swims but didn't want to spend the time organising it all. Hence the idea behind SwimTrek was born!
It took him a further 3 years to organise a collection of swims worthy of putting SwimTrek’s name to as well as achieving some personal challenges such as a successful solo swim across the English Channel in 2002.
In the early days, Simon was guiding and running the office himself, producing small brochures.
A favourite photo was doing a press shoot with the British Daily Telegraph in the Serpentine Lido, wearing swimming trunks, swim hat and goggles and carrying a pair of suitcases. (see image below)
The first ever trip that we ran was to the Greek Cyclades in July 2003. We’re proud to say that the pilot that day, Akis Melas is still the same pilot that we use today after all these years later. It’s a sign of the importance that SwimTrek places in its local suppliers (pilots, hoteliers etc..) and of the loyalty so often appropriated to us by them.
Left: Simon after completing his swim across the Hellespont. Center: Simon's first press shoot. Right: Pilot Akis Melas.
Since those days we have organised swims in over 40 locations worldwide. We don’t just swim for the sake of swimming. As for the Hellespont all those years ago, we at SwimTrek feel that there needs to be a reason to do it. Hence all our locations have something special about them.
Whether it’s traversing the islands of the Kornati National park in Croatia, taking your chance of swimming with the rare Mediterranean Monk Seal in the Greek Sporades, swimming from Britain to America in the Virgin Islands or indeed retracing the wake of Leander, Byron and Simon in the Hellespont, each trip has something special and unique about it.
There is something idyllic about immersing yourself in open water. When you arrive either on an island or lake shore under your own steam and look back from where you have swum, you can appreciate where you have arrived in a way that no one else possibly can.
Back all those years ago we created the concept of the swimming holiday and we can assure you that there is no possibility of the world running out of great swimming locations. Indeed, Simon's always discovering more.
Our team of experienced guides, local pilots and friendly head office staff are all extremely passionate about open water swimming and making your trip with us truly memorable and unique.
Why don’t you join us on the journey and discover one for yourself? Come on in, the water’s lovely.